Last Saturday, Celebrities came together with Chicago activist and influencers for a panel discussing the gun violence in the city. Community members were in attendance as boxing champ Floyd Mayweather sat down with a Black Ink Crew Chicago’s Ryan Henry, Hip Hop Icon J Prince, Chicago activist Demetrius Nash, and Leaders founder and entrepreneur Corey Gilkey to discuss solutions for gun violence on Chicago’s south side at the esteemed DuSable Museum of African American History.
About The Event
Panel moderator Karen Civil took turns asking each panelist about their work and how they use their platforms to impact the community. Panelist, Demetrius Nash “D.Nash”, who is best known for walking all the way from Chicago to White House to bring awareness to the systemic issues that contribute to the gun violence in Chicago, spoke about his initiative to replace guns with hammers. “I was a part of the problem now I’m obligated to be a part of the solution.” he stated.
Ryan Henry, owner of the popular 9 Mag Tattoo shop, says he uses his platform as an entrepreneur and reality television star to provide employment opportunities in his community. “I wanted to be somebody to be looked up to in my community and somebody that can aspire people around me, even create jobs for the community or even people who just needed inspiration.”
J Prince, the man behind the infamous Rap-A-Lot label imprint and author of “The Art & Science of Respect”, stressed that it is important to give back to the community you come from. “You wouldn’t be who you are today if it wasn’t for the competition and things that existed in the hood.”
At one point during the panel, Karen Civil referenced the many charitable offerings made by million dollar boxing champ Floyd Mayweather that rarely gets any media attention. “At the Floyd Mayweather Foundation, we will continue to give back to families and to the American citizens because that’s what I believe in doing.”, Mayweather says.
The discussion concluded with a brief Q&A with the panelist. One elder who had been doing work with Chicago’s youth for over 50 years, voiced his frustration about the lack of financial support that he receives for his programs. “Everyone wants to talk to violence in Chicago but don’t nobody want to help the brothers in Chicago”.
The Surprise of the Evening
The audience stood to their feet when it was announced that the family of Emmett Till was in attendance. The 14 year-old Chicago native was lynched in Mississippi in 1955 after being accused of harassment by a white woman in her family grocery store. Till’s death became the stepping stone for the Civil Right’s movement. Recent cases like the shooting deaths of Trayvon Martin, Mike Brown, and Laquan McDonald proves violent history of persecuting blacks in America is alive today.
The dialogue that took place is always going to be necessary for the city of Chicago. The issue of gun violence has many root causes that can not be fixed by one person. It’s going to take a unified effort for us to see the changes in our community that we want see. I applaud the panelist for using their platforms to create change in their communities and being a shining example for what our youth can become.
Floyd Mayweather made a promise to build at least 4 boxing facilities in Chicago over the next 24 months as well as writing a check (and posting it on social media!) to help the cities youth programs. Let’s hope he fulfills that promise!
Check out my interviews with Corey Gilkey, Demetrius Nash, Ryan Henry and more on the ChiPedia Podcast on WGN Radio.